Los Angeles Attorneys
Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers
Los Angeles is known for its hustle and bustle. There’s always somebody in a hurry to get to their destination. This haste often requires a sacrifice of caution. When this is coupled with the dense populations of LA, car accidents are a common occurrence in the City of Angels.
Understanding what causes car accidents, what damages can be recovered, and relevant state laws can be essential in helping you recover compensation for your injuries.
What Causes Car Accidents in Los Angeles?
A few seconds and a few inches can be the difference between safety and a car crash. There are so many variables on the road that cannot be controlled. While you follow certain defensive driving techniques to try and lessen the chances of getting into a collision, there are some times when an accident is not your fault. Below are some of the causes of car accidents we see in Los Angeles, CA.
- Drunk drivers: When drivers put certain substances into their body, they lose the ability to control themselves and their vehicles. Their decision-making is altered and their reaction time is slowed. Drunk drivers will often face criminal charges as well as a civil lawsuit for their recklessness. If you notice a driver on the road behaving strangely, you should give them ample space, especially late at night when it’s more likely to be a drunk driver. If you see someone who is clearly a hazard to themselves and those around them, it’s okay to call the police. It’s better to get them in trouble than to let them end up in the hospital.
- Distracted drivers: Distracted driving is one of the most common causes for car accidents of any type. When a driver takes their eyes, mind, or hands away from the task of driving, they put themselves and others at risk of a collision. It only takes a few seconds to veer into the oncoming lane or be unaware of changing road conditions. Accidents can happen when a driver is eating, grooming, fiddling with a radio or cellular device, talking to others in the car, etc. If you get into an accident with a distracted driver, take note of anything that might help you prove they were not paying attention when the crash occurred.
- Inclement weather: Drivers are expected to be able to operate their vehicle in any and all weather conditions on California roadways. When you get behind the wheel, you are implying that you can handle the surrounding environment. This also means that other drivers on the road are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles. If you are driving in icy conditions, heavy rain, or strong winds and somebody loses control and causes a collision, weather is not an excuse. You can still hold them liable for the damages to your car or medical bills that result from the crash.
- Dangerous road conditions: Drivers may be put into situations that require additional skill or attention to navigate. If there is construction on their usual route, large obstacles or potholes in the road, or heavy traffic, LA drivers may need to be especially careful. In busier areas, you may need to focus on more than one hazard at a time, which can lead to an accident. If you are successfully avoiding complications and somebody else’s negligence causes a collision that injures you, you may be eligible for financial benefits.
- Animals: Obstacles in the road can cause drivers to make unexpected movements, especially when those obstacles jump out at the last second. On the rare occasion that an animal gets into the road in Los Angeles, it could lead to an accident.
There are many possible causes for Los Angeles car accidents. Although the severity of your injuries are more pertinent to determining the value of your settlement, understanding why the crash happened is a vital part of proving the other party was responsible.
Determining Fault in Los Angeles Car Accidents
California is an at-fault state—somebody must be blamed for every accident that occurs on the road. California follows a pure comparative negligence doctrine, which means that liability is assigned and damages are calculated as a percent of the whole.
If the negligent party was texting and swerved into the oncoming lane causing a head-on collision, they are at fault for the other driver’s injuries. If the other driver was not wearing a seatbelt and flew through the windshield, making the injuries significantly more severe, they may be deemed partially responsible for the resulting harm. This may lead to an 80/20 split, so the victim would recover a reduced portion of their total settlement value based on their 20% of blame.
Insurance companies will use a variety of different methods to try and pin blame on you after a car accident. The more fault they can assign to you, the less they have to pay.
Car accident attorneys in Los Angeles will protect you from these tactics and ensure you get the full value of compensation you deserve. We know how to fight back against insurance companies and prevent them from taking advantage of your vulnerability.
Common Car Accident Types in LA
The type of car crash you are injured in can affect how your injury claim proceeds. You may not know who hit you, you might have to convince a jury that you were not at fault, or you may have to file a claim as the surviving loved one of a victim who died in the crash. Below are some of the different types of accidents we see in LA.
- Head-on collisions: These are perhaps the most serious type of car crash that occurs on the road in Los Angeles. Head-on collisions involve a tremendous amount of force that is often too much for the victim to endure. When two cars traveling opposite directions meet face-to-face, there is bound to be severe injury. Head-on collisions are more common on two-way streets and are often the result of one driver’s negligence.
- Rear-end collisions: Rear-end collisions are not always as severe as head-on crashes, but they are significantly more common. Since both cars are traveling the same direction, the sum of forces is often less. Either of the cars can lead to a rear-end collision, especially if the car in front has to stop very quickly for some reason and the following car doesn’t notice.
- Hit and run accidents: Hit and run accidents can be difficult to recover adequate compensation for, as the victim may not know who the guilty party was. The injured party may be able to pursue limited benefits from their insurance company, but if the accident is very severe, they may need to find other avenues to seek damages. An experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney will investigate the details and attempt to locate the guilty party with the help of law enforcement if necessary.
- Side-impact crashes: Most common at intersections because of the perpendicular movement of cars, side-impact collisions––or T-bone accidents––can be very harmful to the person who is on the side which is hit by the other car. Passenger doors do not offer as much of a buffer as the front or back of a vehicle. As long as drivers are obeying traffic laws and understand right-of-way expectations, most side-impact crashes can be avoided.
- Speeding accidents: Even though speeding is more so a cause of crashes than a type of crash, we include it because speeding accidents are consistently more dangerous than other collisions. When one of the drivers is going faster than the speed limit, it increases the total force of the impact for both vehicles. Speeding accidents also happen because the driver cannot adjust to changing environments in time due to their velocity. If this is the case, they may be held liable for the damage they cause.
- Rollovers: If a car turns too quickly or is hit from the side with a lot of force, it might be completely upturned. Depending on the vehicle and whether or not somebody is wearing a seat belt, the injuries caused by these accidents can be very serious.
- Fatal crashes: Severe car crashes may lead to the death of a victim. Whether it’s instant or happens upon impact or due to the injuries sustained in the accident, the surviving spouse/children may be able to recover wrongful death damages. Our auto accident lawyers in Los Angeles will help you pursue compensation if you lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligence.
Possible Injuries in an LA Car Accident
Accidents can lead to a variety of injuries ranging from mild to severe, including the types listed below.
- Broken bones: The body is only made to sustain so much force. When you absorb the shock of an accident, your bones may break and require a long recovery period or surgery.
- Burns: Hot liquids can spray from vehicles or individuals might be thrown across the street, causing burns on the skin.
- Cuts and lacerations: Sharp objects, such as glass or jagged metal, can pierce the skin and cause the victim to bleed, thus requiring immediate medical assistance.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): TBIs are some of the most complicated injuries because they can have lifelong consequences. The brain is difficult to repair if injured.
- Whiplash: Often caused by rear-end collisions, whiplash is trauma in the tendons and muscles of the neck. If there is a sudden bolt or jerk that causes the head to snap in one direction, the neck may be sore for varying amounts of time afterward.
- Scarring or disfigurement: Sometimes you can be harmed in a way that affects your physical appearance permanently. This can directly impact your quality of life and therefore warrants compensation.
You should get a medical examination after a car accident, even if you don’t feel like you were hurt. You might have an internal injury that has not started showing symptoms yet. If you accept a settlement before you know the full extent of your injuries, you could suffer for it later when you cannot cover medical expenses that would’ve been covered with the help of an attorney.
LA Car Accident Damages
What you will recover from a car crash claim depends on the specifics of your accident and the experience of your Los Angeles auto accident lawyer. Benefits are often broken down into three categories:
- Special compensatory damages
- General compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
An attorney can help you pursue those you are eligible for and build a case to maximize your settlement.
Special damages are more common in car accident cases and easier to get compensation for. These are costs that have a numerical value or cost attached to them. Medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses caused by the auto accident are all examples of special damages.
It’s very important to document any costs associated with your accident and keep receipts so damages may be recovered. Once fault is proven, special damages will be awarded without much negotiation, as they are predetermined values.
General damages cover just about everything else that you might receive compensation for, including subjective damages that were not included in special damages and must be negotiated. This includes future medical bills that may arise.
Pain and suffering is a good example of a general damage. There is no financial expense associated with the physical and emotional pain you endured after your Los Angeles car accident. Sometimes pain persists even after an injury has been treated.
Money may not be able to undo what was done, but it can help you get back on your feet and return to a higher quality of life after an accident. A good car accident lawyer in CA will fight to maximize your general damages by proving your suffering to the insurance company.
Punitive damages are an additional fine imposed on the defendant to punish them for gross negligence or intentional malice. It is very rare that the victim of a car accident will be awarded punitive damages. They are more common in severe cases with powerful defendants who need to be taught a lesson.
How Much Is My Los Angeles Car Accident Worth?
There is no easy way to tell how much your settlement will be worth. There is a lot of investigating and negotiating that is done on a case-by-case basis. Below are some of the factors that will likely contribute to your car accident settlement.
- Injury severity: The more painful your injuries are and the more stress they cause you, the more money you can recover for them.
- Ability to work: If your injuries prevent you from working or earning a wage, you will be eligible for significant compensation.
- Permanence – If there is no treatment or cure for your injury, you can receive compensation to cover the rest of your life. For older individuals, this might be less money than for younger individuals, as they likely won’t be needing money for as long.
- Partial fault: If you were completely free of fault in the car accident, you will be able to recover the full value of damages.
- Parties involved: Sometimes a car accident victim can recover additional compensation from third parties that also contributed to the accident. If you are hit by a distracted driver but your seatbelt does not withstand the amount of force it is supposed to, you can recover compensation from the manufacturer as well, so long as that defect affected the severity of your injury.
The best way to get an idea of how much your car accident settlement might be worth is to work with a knowledgeable Los Angeles car accident attorney. The Chain | Cohn | Clark lawyers have seen many accident cases in the past and will be able to advise you on whether or not pursuing an injury claim would be worthwhile.
California Car Accident Laws
In Los Angeles, there are three important state laws that will affect your car accident case.
- Liability laws: California is an at-fault state that follows a pure comparative negligence standard. This means that victims can be held partially responsible for a crash they were harmed in. A good lawyer will help you fight the insurance company’s comparative negligence arguments to help you recover as much compensation as possible.
- Minimum insurance coverage: Due to the state’s at-fault rules, California drivers are required to carry insurance policies to prepare for a crash. They must have bodily injury coverage of at least $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and property damage liability coverage of at least $5,000. Victims may pursue additional damages through a lawsuit.
- California statute of limitations: Depending on the state you are in and type of claim you are filing, there will be a time limit on your injury case. For car accidents in Los Angeles, CA, the statute of limitations is two years after the date of the accident. If the claim is for property damage only, you will have three years of eligibility to file a claim. If you are making a case against the city or a government entity, you will likely only have six months to file your claim. If you do not successfully submit an injury claim within this window, the defendant will have no legal obligation to compensate you.
Understanding how the laws of your state affect car accident claims is an important part of getting the justice you deserve. An experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney can help you navigate these laws to ensure the best possible outcome.
Contact the LA Car Accident Attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark
Car accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially traumatizing. Our goal is to help you focus on feeling better about the first two. We will handle the financial and legal aspects of your case to get the justice you deserve. Insurance companies will try to take advantage of your inexperience to pay you as little as possible—don’t let them.
Call the Chain | Cohn | Clark Los Angeles car accident lawyers at (661) 616-9829 or fill out our online form to start your case for full and fair compensation.